Wittenberg University was one of six institutions added to the list of AAUP sanctioned institutions at the June 2021 AAUP Council meeting.
An institution is sanctioned by AAUP only after an investigation by the Committee on College and University Governance reveals “serious departures by the administration and/or governing board from generally accepted standards of college and university government endorsed by this Association, as set forth in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities and derivative governance documents.”
The report on Wittenberg highlighted three actions that Wittenberg’s board took without consulting the faculty.
The first was its establishment of an ad hoc Academic Program Futures Committee (APFC) consisting of administratively selected faculty members to plan, largely in secret, further academic program reductions than those already approved by the Educational Policies Committee (EPC), an elected faculty body.
The second step came in May 2020, two months into the COVID-19 crisis, when the board approved a resolution “suspending any faculty manual provisions that might delay the actions needed to achieve financial sustainability.”
Finally, in June, the board announced to the faculty its unanimous approval of APFC recommendations to discontinue eight programs and departments and to eliminate two tenured faculty positions in geology and Japanese.
The report describes how the faculty and the Wittenberg AAUP chapter protested each step along the way.
The University of Akron also was investigated as part of National AAUP’s omnibus governance investigation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a successful negotiation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the chapter and administration on shared governance led the Committee on College and University Governance to make no recommendation on sanction.
However, in its statement, the committee wrote that it “remains deeply concerned about the continued presence in the collective-bargaining agreement of language equivalent to the technically deleted ‘force majeure.’” In light of subsequent developments, the AAUP’s Council referred consideration of a recommendation on sanction of the University of Akron back to the Committee on College and University Governance.